September 04, 2013

Gallantry and good conduct – Peter Buell Porter

Peter Buell Porter, born in 1773, graduated from Yale College in 1791 before becoming a lawyer. He was a wealthy landowner and businessman who was active in state and federal politics. He entered Congress in 1809, where he was a great public speaker and a prominent member of the ‘war hawks’ where he pushed for the annexation of Upper Canada (Ontario).

With the outbreak of the War of 1812, Porter served as quartermaster general of the New York State militia. In 1812, Porter criticized General Smyth’s aborted invasion of Upper Canada that resulted in a bloodless duel in which one commentator remarked, “Unfortunately, both missed.”
Peter Porter
By 1814, Porter assumed command of the Third Brigade in the Left Division, which primarily consisted of militia, volunteers and native warriors. Porter was influential in obtaining the assistance of the native warriors for the Niagara 1814 campaign through his diplomatic skills with Red Jacket. Porter and his brigade fought well at Chippawa, Lundy’s Lane and Fort Erie, earning him a gold medal from Congress for his “gallantry and good conduct.”

After the war, Porter returned to politics and was re-elected to Congress in 1815. Porter served on the US-Canada Boundary Commission and he spent a year as Secretary of War in John Quincy Adams cabinet, among other political achievements. Porter retired from politics in the 1830s and spent the rest of his life on his extensive property along the Niagara River. He died in 1844 at the age of 71.

If you want to find out more about Porter, you can head to The Buffalo History Museum on Friday, September 13 to see the unveiling of four new War of 1812 exhibits. Click here for more information.

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